Moving Towards Self-Employment

December 14, 2012

A couple of days ago I bought a book as a Christmas present for a buddy, but ended up sitting down and reading most of it in one sitting before wrapping it.

It's the kind of book that I took a gamble on-- I thought it might be one of those cutesy artist/self-help books that tells you to dance like nobody's watching. Instead, it was full good stuff-- ideas that felt like they were written with my creative dilemmas in mind.

The principles in the small 140-page book seem almost too simple (Do good work and share it with people...Take care of yourself...Write what you like). But, the principles of being a successful creative person ARE simple. It's implementing them that's ridiculously complex and uncertain.

My eyes traveled to this section:

Keep your day job. A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine... A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. 
--Austin Kleon--

There is a romance to (the sound of) self-employment- something that I hope to fully attain someday in the next couple of years. Strangely, it's been Ben's full-time self-employed that's made me feel grateful for the 2-3 days I spend serving at a restaurant. It's made me really appreciate the regularity of my (albeit small) paycheck, those hours when I'm not in charge of anyone or anything other than mixing a martini for an business man with a suspiciously young-looking lunch date, and the chance to daydream and people watch.  

But, my arrangement of money jobs and freelance jobs hasn't always fit so nicely. There were the years I taught dance at six different suburban schools while nannying, and the years I worked 40 hours/wk at a restaurant for health insurance and still kept up the day of teaching in Northfield and the nights of rehearsals. My life has become a lot simpler since I limited my teaching and freelance gigs and focused my energy on:

1. A job that allows me to make a good hourly wage with minimal baggage to bring home and maximum flexibility(for me- serving).

2. Making space for business things (making a website, meeting with clients, devising methodology, developing materials).

3. Taking care of myself. 

This is still a relatively new experiment, especially since a lot of time and energy this summer and fall went towards moving, rehab-ing our house, and boring business things like opening bank accounts. But, what's working well for me is having enough time and space where I HAVE to keep moving forward with our creative business pursuits. I can't make excuses for doing scary things by saying that I'm too busy. And, this wasn't the case when I was teaching a lot, and rehearsing for 3 things that I sortof wanted to do, but maybe didn't really want to do.

For me, it's come down to energy. I can't do all the things and do them well. And, I can't make a business happen without a bit of a financial cushion. So, that serving job? I kindof like it.

What kinds of day jobs do you think fit best with freelancing? When do you know it's time to quit your job and be fully self-employed?

[I also write about finding a day job that works with freelancing here.]


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